Keep yourselves from idols.


Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 
(1 John 5:21)

I have lost count of the number of times I have read “I must have a thermomix”, “I am so jealous”, I can’t live without mine”, “I must persuade my husband to buy me one”. I sat in the car on Friday listening to a dear friend of mine raving about the thermomix and how she rushed home after a demonstration and tell her husband “she had to have one”. When does a simple item for the kitchen become something we “must have” or “couldn’t live without” and try and persuade everyone else to have one. When does one slip into idolising something? It appears it happens quickly and often without us even realising it. We are so vulnerable to persuasion.

For this reason we must always be on guard and God has give us a very direct instruction in regards to idolatry  FLEE

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.

Whilst we no longer worship deities such as those found in places like India, it doesn't mean we don't worship idols. Its just that modern day idols look a little different but there are many of them lurking — have you ever consider that a television can be an idol. So can sport, ones car, house, certain possessions (including our clothes and even that thermomix), a hobby, a person, a political party, a cause, a job - anything can become an idol that takes us away from God. Including our blogs. However it can also include matters of the heart —pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Idolatry was a problem for the Israelites and its still a problem for us today. Not much has changed, making God's Word still as relevant as ever, perhaps even more relevant as we are surrounded by so many idols that can take us quickly, quietly and without warning from God. 

In this modern age we worship at the alter of materialism and we are doing it all the time, even without knowing.  We are building bigger and bigger homes which we fill with all the things we believe we can't live without. We live off credit as we can't pay for all that we want on the fortnightly salary and we aren't willing to save. We must have things NOW and we believe our lives wouldn't be complete without them. We rush out to the buy the latest even if what we have still works, we envy others who have things we desire, we buy far too many clothes even when our wardrobes are full. We haven't found the stop button.

You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)

Did you know that your home can become your idol, just in the same way as a career can for a working woman — home all day, dedicating your time and energy into making it perfect and before long you have become obsessed with it. It becomes the centre of your universe and it is all you think about. Your children can also become idols, you spend so much time caring for them, raising them, wanting them to be perfect in every way and before long they become your central focus of your life and God quietly slips behind in importances. God must be number one in our minds and come before children, our husbands, our homes, our belongings, our jobs etc..  Could you walk away from all of this for God, most of us couldn't. 

Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands,That which their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:8)

For those who work, including your husbands — watch the number of hours they work, many people are obsessed with working long hours, including evenings and weekends. They can't turn off their phone or their laptop, they might be needed — they see themselves as critical. We are seeing a growing number of women driven by promotion and losing the ability to balance their lives. None of this is done for the glory of God, it is all done for man — for self. Could be greed, self importances, vanity, pride. Whatever the reason, it is wrong. 

Other idols can include the environment — its perfectly ok to do "your bit" to keep the environment clean, but don't obsess and make it your new god. Science is amazing, but always remember, it isn't God and many scientists are playing God. Whilst being interested in politics is fine, perhaps joining a party and becoming immerse in it isn't wise. Loosing weight, going to the gym are all healthy options —  but so many go over board and spend huge amounts of time, energy and money and it becomes their new idol. Remember, it will all be destroyed one day and nothing of this earth will matter. This is why focusing on God is SO important as He is the only one that matters in the end. 

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

So what should we do, be careful. Thing twice before doing something. Its perfectly fine to buy that thermomix if you can afford it, but don't obese about it, don't try and persuade others as they may not be able to afford one. Perhaps even if you can afford one, do you really need it, are you so short of time? Think twice when starting a new hobby, will you get carried away and will it take time away from God, bible study, helping others, being your husbands helpmate. Blogging for example is a perfect way of sharing and spreading God's word, but it is also a trap that can take up hours of your time. Find the balance and always ask yourself "will its entrap me".  Satan uses idols to trap our focus on ourselves and not on Him and he is very good at doing this. 

Remember, there is only ONE God, no others and whatever we do for our ONE God:

do all to the glory of God. 
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

*****

Comments

  1. Sound advice possessions are not always necessary.

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  2. timely warning; I just got a new computer. Am very happy about it, but am determined not to be on it overmuch.

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    1. Its just so easy to slip into overuse and overrating things we own!! We are such flawed human beings :)

      Have a wonderful week ahead.

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  3. Very well said. Idolizing is dangerous and a very big problem in our society today.

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    1. Very big problem and no one seems to realise it.

      Have a lovely weekend:)

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  4. Wonderfully wise words!!! Thank you for sharing this. :)

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  5. So true. It can be a challenge these days to keep our children focused on what is really important, everything is so saturated with marketing the "must haves".

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    1. Its rather scary how children are now the focus of so much marketing, its criminal that they get away with it. We are turning our children in to maxi consumers.

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    2. It ought to BE criminal to target children the way companies and marketers do. There are laws limiting the targeting of ads to minors in Europe - we ought to demand those same protections for our own children here in America and elsewhere. They aren't "mini-consumers" in-the-making - they're OUR kids and OUR responsibility to mold, and we parents deserve official support against the overwhelming and brazen campaigns to turn our kids into blindly-spending-drones.

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    3. I watched a documentary about the way markets get "our money" and the section on how they deliberately target children was both amazing and scary - nothing is done randomly, it is all done with special "care" and highly successful. We have limits in Australia when toy ads can be played and that also includes food aimed at children. We are producing children that will be experienced consumers by the time they are working and it will do them no good.

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  6. On face value, people often think those of us in the western nations don't have a problem with idolatry because we don't have stone gods that we bow down to. But idolatry today is so much more subtle than that - as you say, it's the things, and the lifestyles that take the place of God in our lives and consume us. Even sexual relationships are idolized by some people. Hollywood, actors and actresses. The "American dream" and freedom in our country - all these things are idolized. People sing to and pledge allegiance to flags - another form of idolatry that people often get really defensive about! Patriotism. Subtle forms of idolatry that people easily fall into and often don't recognise. And, as you say, materialism is an especially bad one in western nations. A very appropriate blog post for all of us to read and keep in mind, Jo.

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    1. I forgot about patriotism as this one is a big problem in some countries - this is the idolising of a nation - not much different to creating a stone idol :(

      And yes, all those young people who go mad when their favourite film star or band comes visiting with young girls in particular weeping and fainting :( And those who wait hours or sometimes days to buy something or meet someone for a signature. Christians fall into this trap without even knowing that there is problem. Interestedly, the word Idol and its variations appears quite a few times in the Bible - so it MUST be really important. In fact I was surprised at the number of verses about this very topic. We need to take it seriously.

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    2. Patriotism is bad here and in America among some groups of people - and of course we know it's bad in some other cultures too. I saw a post on facebook a few weeks ago regarding an Australian talking about pledging to the Australian flag. I don't even understand what that means?! How can you pledge to a 'thing' like that which can neither see nor hear, nor speak? It doesn't even make real sense. And as for pledging allegiance to a nation - why would you even want to do that? As a believer (especially), we should never pledge allegiance to anything that doesn't match up 100% to the Scriptures - and the government of Australia with their laws, or America with their laws, certainly do NOT match up to Scripture. Otherwise abortion would be outlawed and those who practiced it would be imprisoned for it. Homosexuality would also be outlawed... and so on.
      Yes, idolatry is mentioned extensively in the Scriptures. And think of the model God set up with the law, where everything could be perfect if people would just worship Him (meaning He would bless them with peace and shower provisions and blessings etc on them), but what did they do?? Constantly fell into idolatry of all kinds. No wonder God takes it so seriously - it's a *real* problem with humans!

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  7. This is a great reminder! I am guilty of having false idols...and I never realized it in the moment. It has always been after the fact when I realized that I was putting something or someone before God. He should always be number one because all good things come from Him.

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    1. Somem false idols aren't things we would think as idols until someone else points them out - so true, God in number one, our husbands number 2 and our children number 3 - all else comes afterwards! Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. Jo this post is FANTASTIC!
    Whilst I don't struggle with the desire to want a thermomix, there are definitely things that I need to be mindful of them not consuming my life. I am often thinking about this issue and working out a good balance of the 'other things' whilst doing what I can to keep God as number one.
    Thank you for this wonderful reminder.

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    1. Thanks Sandy :))) You always make me feel good and bring a smile to my face with your beautiful comments.

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